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Ombudsman calls on govt to destroy survey data

Hungary's data protection ombudsman said personal data of respondents in a government survey earlier this year was handled in an illegitimate way and must therefore be erased from the records, the ombudsman's secretary said on Tuesday.

Ombudsman András Jóri has banned setting up a data base from the gained information, as well as further illegal handling and processing of the data, said a statement from the secretariat.

In June, Jóri had already established that questionnaires in the government's "social consultation" did not meet stipulations of the data protection law, and ordered personal data to be destroyed.

The central office in charge of the survey, however, has failed to fully comply with the ombudsman's instructions, the statement said.

The survey, said the document, had violated stipulations seeking to ensure full anonymity of respondents, as well as the prohibition of linking opinions to information of personal identity.

According to the ombudsman, the bar code in the header of each questionnaire makes the sheets "unique and personal", and respondents could be identified.

Jóri also said that the waiver attached to each questionnaire "would allow for nearly unlimited handling" of the personal data of respondents.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán launched the survey in early May, seeking answers to questions whether legal protection should be granted to employees over 55 or the unemployed should be ensured jobs rather than benefits.

Soon after, the opposition Socialists voiced criticism over the bar codes on the survey sheets, saying that they would enable the government "to learn at voter level what answers people have given to each question."